I've realized that it's possible to post questions on the Stack Exchange Network using upside-down text, even though it's not search-engine friendly at all. Would it be possible to implement automatic detection and conversion of upside down text on the Stack Exchange Network, to prevent such confusing text from being posted?

How does uʍop-ǝpᴉsdn text work? is one such example of a question with upside-down text, and other examples of such questions can be found here.

I think it would be straightforward to implement an algorithm for automatic detection of upside-down text - for example, it could simply search for strings that consisted of upside-down characters, and then automatically convert them to the correctly-formatted versions.

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    Where has this occurred? Could you provide some examples? – doppelgreener Sep 6 '13 at 0:15
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    sorry but this is a bit obnoxious. – Taryn Sep 6 '13 at 0:16
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    Is that like the bear tax? Look, it must be working, there are no bears in my kitchen! – Aaron Bertrand Sep 6 '13 at 0:16
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    So we should also build in protection to prevent people from asking questions about bears. Nobody has ever done so, but goodness gracious, what ever would we do if they did? – Aaron Bertrand Sep 6 '13 at 0:18
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    @AndersonGreen If this was a real issue then sure make a request, but this just seems like a waste of time to ask the devs to worry about this. – Taryn Sep 6 '13 at 0:18
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    That's pretty racist to think there aren't languages that wouldn't be affected by this – random Sep 6 '13 at 0:18
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    @random I wouldn't go so far as to call it racist, but maybe not thought through. (We are an English-dominated site after all; it's pretty easy to forget people will post other languages here as parts of questions and answers) – doppelgreener Sep 6 '13 at 0:19
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    @AndersonGreen I suggest this would be best left until it actually begins happening. :P – doppelgreener Sep 6 '13 at 0:19
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    Egads, who up-voted this feature request? Is there an official phobia for upside-down text? Invertascriptaphobia? – Aaron Bertrand Sep 6 '13 at 0:21
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    @AndersonGreen An interesting problem, sure, I'll give you that. But not one that the network needs to solve. – Aaron Bertrand Sep 6 '13 at 0:23
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    After reading that title my mind thought the score was "6-" and went "what the hell is the minus for?" – animuson Sep 6 '13 at 0:27
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    @AndersonGreen Why blacklist these characters all? Since this doesn't seem to come up in reality, why penalize the few instances where someone posts a serious question/answer with relevant upside-down text? – John Bensin Sep 6 '13 at 0:34
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    How many people are searching for a question about upside-down text? And if they do, what problem do you foresee? This search seemed to work just fine. What search terms do you envision will actually prevent that question from being discovered via a search engine? – Aaron Bertrand Sep 6 '13 at 0:42
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    Waste of valuable dev time getting rid of something that might happen once every few years, that is dealt with from downvotes or a report to have it deleted anyway. eg "meh". Though I agree it could potentially be valid, valid != necessary. @AndersonGreen If you wanna ask the devs to do this feel free. When you do, wear protective clothing.. gloves, bike helmet, knife jacket and such like...I foresee some stabby stabby... – James Sep 6 '13 at 0:48
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    You know what would have been awesome? pǝuıʃɔǝp snʇɐʇs. – Aaron Bertrand Sep 6 '13 at 1:36

Given the odds that someone will actually try to do this (and not get down-voted into oblivion or simply edited by the millions of people slobbering for easy rep), my vote is no. There are much more important things for the devs to work on, in my opinion, than trying to thwart pranks.

  • Nonetheless, it would be extremely easy to automatically detect upside-down letters in questions and answers. – Anderson Green Sep 6 '13 at 0:18
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    @AndersonGreen it would be easy to do a lot of things. That doesn't mean we have to do them all. There's a thing called priorities, and if this is really at the top of your list... – Aaron Bertrand Sep 6 '13 at 0:18
  • It appears that I've been downvoted into oblivion as well for posting this question. I hope I won't hang myself for posting this question. – Anderson Green Sep 6 '13 at 0:33
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    Don't worry about down-votes on meta; who cares? Are you worried about whether you'll have 1,400 rep or 1,300 rep tomorrow? What are you going to do differently in either case? In this instance I suspect most of the down-votes just signify disagreement with your idea that we should proactively prohibit upside-down text, not anything about the quality of your question or about you personally. Take your lumps, acknowledge that the community doesn't agree with you that this is a problem that needs to be solved, and move on. – Aaron Bertrand Sep 6 '13 at 0:41
  • I take reputation on Stack Overflow very seriously: I wouldn't mind getting a papercut for every time that each of my questions got downvoted. (Of course, I'd probably bleed to death if that happened to me, considering how many bad questions I've asked. But I'd deserve it anyway.) – Anderson Green Sep 6 '13 at 0:48
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    @AndersonGreen Why? It's a web site's virtual number that really has no meaning whatsoever in real life. Even more so here on meta, which is just a place to discuss how the site works. – Aaron Bertrand Sep 6 '13 at 0:55

This isn't necessary. Let's approach this rationally. In theory, I see three possible cases:

  1. The upside-down text is relevant to the question or answer. In this case, it shouldn't be converted automatically because doing so would detract from the post.

  2. A user somehow posts a question or answer with upside down text accidentally. This is the only use case I can see for an algorithm to automatically convert such text, but without links demonstrating that this actually happens, I don't see a need for this because the edit system would probably take care of this.

  3. A user posts something that purposefully contains irrelevant upside-down text. The text will probably be edited out or it will be downvoted/flagged until it's corrected.

In short, why bother? I can't imagine it's worth the effort or the prioritization on the part of the developers to implement this because all of these cases are manageable within the current SE system.

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    They might have a legitimate question that involves those characters. I see no reason to prevent people from posting them as an example. – R. Martinho Fernandes Sep 6 '13 at 0:26
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    @R.MartinhoFernandes Sorry, that wasn't clear. I clarified the answer. Does the updated version make more sense? – John Bensin Sep 6 '13 at 0:28

In cases such as this, I'm sure the community will just vote to close the question or topic. It would be obvious that it was done intentionally, and even if it wasn't, the user's should fix it via edit...

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